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Age Concern Havelock North To Provide 1000 Meals This Christmas

Volunteers have already started preparing slices of Christmas Cake.

Age Concern Havelock North’s annual community Christmas lunch has gone mobile this year, with cooked meals and presents to be delivered to 1000 people in need.

Carol Winters, Age Concern Havelock North Manager, says they have transformed how they are delivering their annual Christmas lunch, now in its ninth year.

“We used to provide a large sit-down meal, but the current Covid-19 climate meant that we were just going to potentially only help a small number of fully vaccinated people.”

When they made the decision to provide a pick-up and delivery service, Carol says they didn’t realise how many people were in need out in the community.

“Within nine days we had 1000 people booked in.”

It is a stark cry from last year’s record of 362 people, and more than the 800 they had originally planned for.

“And we have probably turned away an easy 500 on top of the 1000 once we reached our capacity,” Carol says. They are now to take anymore booking for this year.

She believes some of the increase may be because the majority of meals are being delivered. However, financial pressures and the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 have also significantly contributed.

“Sometimes you get a message from someone who just makes you want to cry and there are a lot more of those coming through so I would say the need is far greater based on what we are hearing of people’s stories.”

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While the lunch is under the banner of Age Concern Havelock North and was initially open to elderly when it first started in 2011, it has since expanded.

“We quickly realised then that there was actually a far greater need within the community, as opposed to just the elderly, so we expanded the brief to include whoever was in need and the Hastings District Council and some private funders came on board to support us.”

This year the Napier City Council has financially supported them.

Those being catered for range from 0 to 95-years-old and are spread across Hastings, Havelock North, Flaxmere, Napier and the wider Hawkes Bay. They have also purchased presents for the 464 children.

“We’re now at the stage of all the presents have been bought, wrapped and really the next step is next week and actually making this all happen.”

Lunch will consist of baked ham, roast potatoes, kumara, pumpkin and peas. Dessert is sticky date pudding with custard, along with Christmas cake. Everyone will also receive a bottle of apple juice and a bottle of apple juice.

This equates to 12 hams, 75kg of kumara and pumpkin, 95kg of potatoes and 50kg peas, as well as a slice of cake each for 1000 people.

All food will be prepared at Pure Catering in Havelock North under the guidance of chef Jeremy Rimene and Stu Wilkins from Maina.

From Wednesday, 125 volunteers will donate their time, and help with everything from cooking, to packing, and delivering 800 meals to people’s doors.

“Wednesday and Thursday is prep, Friday we start to pack meals and Saturday off we go with vans and cars and people everywhere.”

“We wish to thank all our supporters, volunteers and all that make this great project possible.”

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